Conquering Your Inbox with Power.ME, Part I

Many of you who are looking into using Power.ME have heard of David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done (and if you havent, you might want to consider investigating the guru for the “art of stress-free productivity”). One of the biggest hurdles to his system is the task of processing your inbox—the place(s) you store new information or material—for the first time. The task is daunting simply because the mountainous inbox entity is daunting. During long seasons of neglect, the inbox swells to an office-scale Everest.

But processing (and conquering) the inbox is something that needs to happen, and Getting Things Done has an entire chapter entitled “Processing: Getting ‘In’ to Empty.” You’ve achieved the coveted “empty” status if you have

  1. “trashed what you don’t need;
  2. completed any less-than-two minute actions;
  3. handed off to others anything that can be delegated;
  4. sorted into your own organizing system reminders of actions that require more than two minutes; and
  5. identified any larger commitments (projects) you now have, based on the input” (GTD pg. 119).

Reaching these mileposts becomes just a little bit easier when you have Power.ME as a companion during the excursion into the inbox. It makes it easier to stay on the path that David Allen outlines: Process the inbox’s top item first, process one item at a time, and never—ever—put anything back into “in.” This ease comes because you can use Power.ME to complete any of the steps in Allen’s processing workflow diagram. The very first step of the process is deciding if something is actionable or not.

In part one of Conquering Your Inbox with Power.ME, we’ll look at how to use Power.ME to process these non-actionable items. If something from your inbox isn’t actionable, you need to do one of three things: trash it, file it as something you might act on later, or file it for reference. Trashing something doesn’t take a fancy system: you can do that any way you like (I prefer a good shredding). To use Power.ME for someday/maybe and reference items, simply set up a project, folder, filter or proximity that relates to them (if such a designation doesn’t already exist) and sort the items into them. Using your mobile device, you have plenty of options on how to store an item.

  1. Take a picture of the reference item. If your device has a camera, you can tap Add on the Power.ME Toolbar, select Camera from the content options, and snap a photo of the item you need to reference. Give it a helpful name, and then organize it into the project it will be helpful with. (For example, I can take a picture of the brochure for climbing harnesses and file it in my Rock Climbing folder.)
  2. Make a note. Maybe only a piece of the inbox item is useful to you, and it’s a piece you can type up easily. Instead of taking a picture, you can add a note. As an added bonus, you can convert notes into tasks later on if your someday/maybe note becomes something you want to act on. (If I only need the URL for that climbing gear retailer if later on I want to look at their shop.)
  3. Record an audio note or sketch a drawing. If you need a more aural or visual way of referencing non-actionable items, you can add an audio note or a drawing and organize it into your projects.

Later on, if you want to look up all your reference items, you can quickly find them by looking in the Documents section of Power.ME. Even if your references need to include computer files like Excel spreadsheets or a rich text file (RTF) or dozens of others (see your device’s user guide to see all supported media file types), Power.ME can hold them and keep them in an organized, easily accessible system. That mountain of paper and problems loses a lot of its daunting aura when it’s broken into smaller bits.

Power.ME becomes an even better inbox-conquering companion when you’re dealing with actionable items. Look forward to that in part two of Conquering Your Inbox with Power.ME.

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